The biggest trend in marketing today isn’t technology based but rather people based. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is no longer just an idle pipe dream for customers but a heavy weight of expectation put on companies shoulders. Being a good and moral company is the surest route to happier employees, happier customers, and a healthier bank balance.
We all strive to be better. We want to earn more, to be more philanthropic and to be a model citizen in our communities. Yet when given the reins of power many quickly defer the social goals and fixate on the personal goals. Suddenly the charities can wait, those that helped get you there are forgotten, and a shiny new Ferrari for yourself seems most appropriate. In this sense, it’s no surprise we witness corporate corruption stories and scandals as these corporations are made up of human beings just like us with wants, desires, and flaws.
In the dating world, girls love “bad boys”. Ladies swoon over their lust for adventure, rule breaking, power, and cocksure confidence. It drives attraction making for a short but exciting courtship. However, this warm forgiving nature doesn’t extend to corporations emitting hints of Machiavellianism and the dark triad personality traits. Most women and men abhor the law-bending, power drunk and elitist tendencies within corporations. But why?
The reality is we are all employees and answerable to someone. Even entrepreneurs need investors, suppliers, and customers. As humans, we rely on each other to survive. So when we witness corporate scandals, employee strikes and industrial actions we can empathize with the situation. We’ve all been in that situation before or know it may lie ahead in our own future. So when we see the picket lines, we do not cross. We make a mental note asserting that this isn’t a company we should be supporting with our finance, labour or influence.
The importance of Corporate Social Responsibility
As a millennial growing up, I was constantly exposed to superhero movies and characters. Deep down I think we all dream of being Batman, Superman or maybe someone a little rougher around the edges (but still good) like Tony Stark or James Bond. It leads us to hold people in power or major corporations to exceptionally high standards of ethical behaviour. Consequently, its always a shock as a young person, to see that boss or company have little love for their employees or community.
Upon entering the world of education, I became aware of our grooming for the corporate world. In secondary we pick our favourite college and field to study. Then, we expect we will eventually get a job in that domain. On this wild ride however, we hear about corporate social responsibility and great places to work.
They teach us about Google’s strong employee focus with pool rooms, chill out areas and generous remuneration packages. We delight in discovering Facebook’s trust in employees, declining focus on titles and more on quality output. Overall we learn that most people are not just satisfied with their jobs but proud to work at their companies. This reflects in high work satisfaction ratings. Also, work isn’t just a means to an end but employees consider their jobs meaningful. Then reality sets in. We exit our cushy college life and we dislike witnessing and working for organizations with work environments not meeting our expectations.
It’s fair to surmise that this education results in us expecting high corporate standards from companies we deal with. But is neglecting corporate social responsibility really bad for businesses and their bottom line? Firstly, we observe much evidence of this in our customer interactions with the company. Unhappy employees provide bad customer service. A massive correlation exists between employee happiness levels and customer satisfaction ratings. An employee that doesn’t connect with their job or feel a part of the company will not endeavor to help customers or the company. We’ve all felt a forlornness enveloping our system upon entering a store intuitively feeling their negative vibes.
Furthermore, corporate scandals can be very dangerous for organizations. Thanks to the internet, spreading stories and information is easy. It takes mere seconds to achieve worldwide access. Nobody likes their dirty laundry to be shown to the public. Customers especially, find it distasteful. I look up everything on Google prior to buying a product/service. I don’t thnk I’m alone either. If negative stories appear about your company, this will influence my decision-making process. Nothing hinders new customer courtship as fast. Why deal with the “bad guy” when so many competing products exist without the cognitive baggage. We can then avoid the guilt of associating ourselves with businesses taking advantage of other people. Our positive self-image, which is especially important to us, can remain intact.
C.S.R also extends to the environment and our community. Businesses’ nowadays need to give back to their communities. I’m not talking petty gestures for PR purposes but genuine action. Corporations need to be environmentally friendly and pride themselves on setting a good example for future generations. E.g. At IKEA 50% of their wood comes from sustainable forests and 100% of its cotton from farms that meet Better Cotton standards.
So Be Good
The main result of good Corporate Social Responsibility (C.S.R) is happier customers. They’re dealing with a company which fills them with pride to associate with. They believe the company cares about humanity and in effect their customers. Their happy employee’s thrill in providing great customer service resulting in happy customers. Word spreads about customer’s great experiences providing native and authentic PR. Finally, a strong bond forms between the customer and the business resulting in customer loyalty.
Maybe sometimes it pays to be “the nice guy”.